Home |  Cash Bids |  Charts |  Weather |  Headline News |  Markets Page |  Futures Markets |  Canada Wx |  Canadian Ag News |  Canadian Market News 

 
Printable Page Headline News   Return to Menu - Page 1 2 3 5 6 7 8 13
 
 
Next-Gen GPS Satellites Headed to Space12/17 06:08

   DENVER (AP) -- After months of delays, the U.S. Air Force is about to launch 
the first of a new generation of GPS satellites, designed to be more accurate, 
secure and versatile.

   But some of their most highly touted features will not be fully available 
until 2022 or later because of problems in a companion program to develop a new 
ground control system for the satellites, government auditors said.

   The satellite is scheduled to lift off Tuesday from Cape Canaveral, Florida, 
aboard a SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket. It's the first of 32 planned GPS III 
satellites that will replace older ones now in orbit. Lockheed Martin is 
building the new satellites outside Denver.

   GPS is best-known for its widespread civilian applications, from navigation 
to time-stamping bank transactions. The Air Force estimates that 4 billion 
people worldwide use the system.

   But it was developed by the U.S. military, which still designs, launches and 
operates the system. The Air Force controls a constellation of 31 GPS 
satellites from a high-security complex at Schriever Air Force Base outside 
Colorado Springs.

   Compared with their predecessors, GPS III satellites will have a stronger 
military signal that's harder to jam --- an improvement that became more urgent 
after Norway accused Russia of disrupting GPS signals during a NATO military 
exercise this fall.

   GPS III also will provide a new civilian signal compatible with other 
countries' navigation satellites, such as the European Union's Galileo system. 
That means civilian receivers capable of receiving the new signal will have 
more satellites to lock in on, improving accuracy.

   "If your phone is looking for satellites, the more it can see, the more it 
can know where it is," said Chip Eschenfelder, a Lockheed Martin spokesman.

   The new satellites are expected to provide location information that's three 
times more accurate than the current satellites.

   Current civilian GPS receivers are accurate to within 10 to 33 feet (3 to 10 
meters), depending on conditions, said Glen Gibbons, the founder and former 
editor of Inside GNSS, a website and magazine that tracks global navigation 
satellite systems.

   With the new satellites, civilian receivers could be accurate to within 3 to 
10 feet (1 to 3 meters) under good conditions, and military receivers could be 
a little closer, he said.

   Only some aspects of the stronger, jamming-resistant military signal will be 
available until a new and complex ground control system is available, and that 
is not expected until 2022 or 2023, said Cristina Chaplain, who tracks GPS and 
other programs for the Government Accountability Office.

   Chaplain said the new civilian frequency won't be available at all until the 
new control system is ready.

   The price of the first 10 satellites is estimated at $577 million each, up 
about 6 percent from the original 2008 estimate when adjusted for inflation, 
Chaplain said.

   The Air Force said in September it expects the remaining 22 satellites to 
cost $7.2 billion, but the GAO estimated the cost at $12 billion.

   The first GPS III satellite was declared ready nearly 2 years behind 
schedule. The problems included delays in the delivery of key components, 
retesting of other components and a decision by the Air Force to use a Falcon 9 
rocket for the first time for a GPS launch, Chaplain said. That required extra 
time to certify the Falcon 9 for a GPS mission.

   The new ground control system, called OCX, is in worse shape. OCX, which is 
being developed by Raytheon, is at least four years behind schedule and is 
expected to cost $2.5 billion more than the original $3.7 billion, Chaplain 
said.

   The Defense Department has struggled with making sure OCX meets 
cybersecurity standards, she said. A Pentagon review said both the government 
and Raytheon performed poorly on the program.

   Raytheon has overcome the cybersecurity problems, and the program has been 
on budget and on schedule for more than a year, said Bill Sullivan, a Raytheon 
vice president in the OCX system.

   Sullivan said the company is on track to deliver the system to the Air Force 
in June 2021, ahead of GAO's estimates.

   The Air Force has developed work-arounds so it can launch and use GPS III 
satellites until OCX is ready to go.

   While the first GPS III waits for liftoff in Florida, the second is complete 
and ready to be transported to Cape Canaveral. It sits in a cavernous "clean 
room" at a Lockheed Martin complex in the Rocky Mountain foothills south of 
Denver.

   It's expected to launch next summer, although the exact date hasn't been 
announced, said Jonathon Caldwell, vice president of Lockheed Martin's GPS 
program.

   Six other GPS satellites are under construction in the clean room, which is 
carefully protected against dust and other foreign particles.

   "It's the highest-volume production line in space," Caldwell said.

   For the first time, the Air Force is assigning nicknames to the GPS III 
satellites. The first one is Vespucci, after Amerigo Vespucci, the Italian 
navigator whose name was adopted by early mapmakers for the continents of the 
Western Hemisphere.


(KA)

 
 
Copyright DTN. All rights reserved. Disclaimer.
Powered By DTN